Belle Isle Moonshine

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Behind the Bar

Behind the Bar: Melanie Frank // Oak Steakhouse

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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Located in an old bank building in the heart of Charleston, Oak Steakhouse is as timeless as historic Broad Street itself. Bringing a classic New York steakhouse vibe to the southern city, it's no surprise that beef is the real star here. With the help of Bar Manager Melanie Frank, the cocktail menu holds court with the tartare and prime rib. We recently chatted with Melanie about Charleston's bustling dining scene, her bartending theories, and her favorite places to drink. She also shared with us her recipe for the dangerously delicious Catalina 'Shine Mixer

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Melanie Frank, Bar Manager at Oak Steakhouse in Charleston. I’ve been at Oak for seven years and have been bartending for about 11 years overall.

What first got you behind the bar?

When I was in college, I needed a summer job. I went out looking and got my first bartending job at a sports bar.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

Make it fun. You have to remember you’re basically on stage every night, so if you can have fun while working then it’s not really work.

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Favorite drink made by someone else?

I’m the weird bartender that doesn’t really like most liquors and spirits. I’m a red wine or champagne girl all the way.

Favorite drink that you make?

I like making anything I can make look pretty. Aesthetics go along way. If the customer thinks it looks pretty, it’s already going to taste better because their eyes have seen it first.

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Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Tequila. I love good tequila. Sipping or shooting or in a cocktail, you can enjoy it and not have a bad sugar headache the next day.

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

I’m not sure if ice is a credible answer here (editor's note: it is!), but no one wants a hot drink unless it’s a hot toddy. If I can’t use that, then I would choose citrus because it can drastically change any drink or spirit.

 

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

The customers and regulars. I never have a dull night. We have a big local following, and a lot of them have become like family. I really enjoy getting to know people and being part of their lives. I’d say I know 50% or more of my bar most nights. We always joke that’s it’s a "Cheers" bar, but we’re not far from it. I even have some guests that have let me stay at their vacation homes or buy me Christmas gifts. It really is more like an extended family rather than work.

 

What makes your bar unique?

Our building used to be a bank, and it’s about 200 years old. We have a lot of original flooring and structure to it, including the bank vault. It just makes for a very comfortable and intimate place that people love coming to because they feel welcomed just like at home.

 

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

After work? Somewhere quiet where I can get a nice glass of wine. If I’m not working, I really enjoy rooftop bars and outdoor patios.

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What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

I think Charleston is booming in the food and beverage industry. Years ago, you were hard pressed to find a good bartending job. Now the demand is so high you can go almost anywhere and get hired. I think we have amazing restaurants and bars with some really talented bartenders. You would be hard pressed to go anywhere in the city without a craft cocktail list.

 

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

Always smile and be pleasant. There is a lot more to bartending than just making drinks. People are out because they want to have a good time or experience, and you’re there to make that happen. People will forget about the food or the drink you made, but they don’t forget how you made them feel. It could be their one night out a year, so if I can make their night more memorable then I’ve done my job.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

I like the regular moonshine with just a little pickle juice or brine. I don’t like olives, and dirty martinis look so good. So I pickle mine, and it’s delicious.

 


Catalina Shine Mixer

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero

  • 1 oz. ginger molasses

  • ½ oz. lemon juice

  • few drops of ginger bitters

  • Top with champagne

  • Garnish: lemon cranberry habanero lollipop (created by Dress the Drink)

Preparation:

Combine the first three ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Pour champagne on top of mixture in the martini glass and then add a a few drops of ginger bitters. Garnish with the lollipop.

 

Recipe by Melanie Frank. 

All photos by Kate Magee.

Still Thirsty?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Want to get to know us better?

Behind the Bar: Vinnie Dugan // Seven Lamps

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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In the stylish Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead, it can be difficult for a restaurant to stand out from the pack. Seven Lamps manages to do just that, with outstanding food, a killer atmosphere, and a cocktail menu to match.  We chatted with Vinnie Dugan, the restaurant's Beverage Director, about his inadvertent start in the industry, his hospitality widsom, and cereal-inspired cocktails (don't knock it 'til you try it). He'll also share the recipe for his spicy Honey Habanero cocktail - The Irrational


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

My name is Vinnie Dugan, and I’m the Beverage Director at Seven Lamps in Buckhead. I’ve been bartending for 13 years now, with the last two of them at Seven Lamps.

What first got you behind the bar?

I got pulled into the restaurant industry by my brother when I was 18. He always talked about how great the money was and how high-paced it was. Once I started in the industry, I kind of fell into bartending by accident. I was working at the Woodruff Arts Center doing event bartending, and the bartender quit at the restaurant (Twelve Eighty) so they asked me to come work.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

I would suggest finding someone to study under and learn everything you can from them.  Try not to forget who you are making drinks for, and don’t be scared of making something that tastes bad. I still make things that I don’t like all the time.

Favorite drink made by someone else?

I don’t have a specific drink so much as a specific person.  Brent Hesse from Deep End is someone who I respect, and I think we have similar tastes. I always love tasting his stuff and seeing what he is doing.

Favorite drink that you make?

I’m a huge garbage person, so I love cocktails that remind me of my childhood and growing up poor in the south.  We currently have a cocktail made with Cocoa Puffs, milk, bourbon, cognac and chicory liquor called the Breakfast of Champions.  I love the way it tastes, and it immediately transports me to my childhood. It’s clever and light-hearted. I try not to take myself too seriously, and I like to think my cocktails reflect that attitude.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

Diet Mountain Dew is the single greatest soda ever made. I love the stuff.

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If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Sugar would probably be the one ingredient that I’d use for the rest of my life.  Sugar is such a vital part of what I do behind the bar. There’s so many different types, so many different uses, so many different flavors.  Sugar is a flavor enhancer in that when used correctly, it enhances the flavor of the other ingredients in the cocktail.

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

I really am blessed that I work where I do.  I have the creative freedom to pursue whatever I see fit for our beverage program.  I work under chefs Conor O’Reilly and Drew Van Leuvan, two of the most talented and creative minds in the city who are always willing to help me with ideas and techniques.  I have a truly amazing group of guests who come in just to see what I’m up to with new drinks and ideas. To pinpoint one thing that is my favorite about where I work would really be impossible.

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Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Deep End in Atlanta is probably my favorite spot. The tacos are great and he always has cool drinks on the menu.

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

Atlanta’s cocktail culture has come so far in the past five years, and so many places have great cocktail programs.  Tons of new bars are popping up all over the place with really great ideas and cocktails.

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

My golden rule for bar etiquette is don’t be an asshole - and that rule applies to bartenders and guests.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

My favorite way to drink Belle Isle is in a slushie - they work so well in our machine.


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**Spicy Syrup

Take two quarts of simple syrup and place in a saucepan over low heat, gently simmer 6 habanero peppers and 4 serrano peppers until wilted.  Strain the mixture and add 5 grams of habanero powder.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. spicy syrup **
  • 1 mint sprig torn
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Preparation:

Shake and double strain into a coupe and garnish with a slapped mint leaf.

Recipe by Vinnie Dugan.

All photos by Kate Magee


Need more cocktail inspo?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Wanna Learn More About Us?

Behind the Bar: Liz Jankiewicz // Ouzo Bay

Behind the BarStephanie Stanton2 Comments
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Located in the Harbor East area of Baltimore, Ouzo Bay made a splash when it opened in 2012 with its authentic-meets-modern Greek menu and neon-laced Mediterranean interior. With expert bartender Liz Jankiewicz manning the bar program, Ouzo Bay's cocktail menu is just as impressive as its lamb shank and souvlaki. When Liz isn't whipping up innovative, delicious cocktails for Ouzo Bay's menu, she's going for the gold in national bartending competitions like Speed Rack Mid-Atlantic, Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience, and Glenfiddich Most Experimental Serve. We recently spoke with Liz about her bartending style, her favorite drinks, and what it takes to run a bar program in bustling Baltimore. She also shares her recipes for two beautiful Belle Isle cocktails.


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Liz Jankiewicz, Bar Manager at Ouzo Bay in BaltimoreI just recently took over the bar program at Ouzo Bay in November 2017, but I’ve been behind the stick for 9 years.

What first got you behind the bar?

The summer before I moved to Baton Rouge for grad school at the ripe age of 21, I wanted to learn how to bartend so I could support myself.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

I would suggest seeking out the most experienced and charismatic bartender. Watch, listen, and learn. Respect your bartender elders.

 

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Favorite drink made by someone else?

Sarah Anderson at The Bygone makes a killer Ramos Gin Fizz. 

 

Favorite drink that you make?

My favorite drink to make is impromptu customized drinks based on a guest’s preferences. Most are riffs, or improved cocktails. I think it’s a special experience for the guest. I can usually introduce a new ingredient or style they can enjoy but may not be used to.

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Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

I know it defies the art of high brow cocktails, but I am a sucker for Jägerbombs.

 

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Ruby Red Grapefruit. Whether she’s an expressed rind, a shrub, a juice, or bitters, Ruby Red is my favorite lady.

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?

The Ouzo Bay ambiance is definitely my favorite. From service to lighting to the open air, it’s an oasis.

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

My recent watering hole favorite would have to be the Regal Beagle. If you want great cocktails, impressive food neighborhood camaraderie, and the feeling of partying in your parent’s basement from the late 80s, you should ‘come and knock on their door.’

 

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?

I’m continually impressed by the talent that is emerging in Baltimore. New programs and concepts are popping up all over the city. From locally-sourced ingredients to speakeasy exclusivity, Baltimore’s cocktail culture is diverse as the city is itself.

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

My golden rule for bartenders is ‘This is the hospitality industry. Be hospitable.’

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee and almond milk on the rocks.

 


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Roots of My Homeland

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
  • ½ oz. carrot juice
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. ginger honey
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • Club soda
  • Orange wheel garnish

Preparation:

Add first five ingredients to shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into collins glass and add ice. Top with soda and garnish with an orange wheel. 

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Important Imports

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with an orange peel and a cinnamon "cigar."

 

Recipes by Liz Jankiewicz.

All photos by Joey Wharton


NEED MORE COCKTAIL INSPO?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

WANNA HEAR MORE OF OUR STORY?

Behind the Bar: Spencer Robinson // The War Mouth

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment
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In South Carolina's capital, down-home Southern fare is king. Currently, some of the best the city has to offer comes from The War Mouth in the booming Cottontown neighborhood of Columbia (or Cola, to locals). Patrons may come to The War Mouth for the catfish stew, fried gizzards, and homemade barbecue (they have a pit in the back), but they stay for the playful, creative, and delicious cocktails. We recently chatted with Head Bartender Spencer Robinson (better known as "Sweet Baby" to some) about his short, but super successful, time behind the bar, his favorite cocktails, and his secret pre-shift ritual (hint: it involves whiskey). Spencer also lets us in on his herbacious, smooth, and smokin' Belle Isle cocktail, the Burning Bush

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

My name is Spencer “Sweet Baby” Robinson, and I am the Head Bartender at The War Mouth. I have been behind the bar for six months and have been in the service industry for seven years.

What first got you Behind the Bar?

It looked like it was more fun than washing dishes, which is the position I had at the time. Turns out I have a knack for the creative aspects of the job and some people would say a natural gift for hospitality, so it was a good fit. As an avid drinker, it was easy for me to pick up the nuances of the liquid artistry.

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Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

Never stop watching and listening. As a bartender still very new to the field, I think it is incredibly important to use every day as an opportunity to learn something new. The moment you stop listening and learning from others is the moment you’ve peaked.

What's your favorite drink made by someone else?

I’m a big fan of the Old Fashioned. I think the Old Fashioned is the ultimate test when I’m visiting a new bar or watching a bartender. A well-made Old Fashioned speaks volumes of the bartender and of the bar. There’s a new bar in Columbia called COA that slings beautiful mezcal drinks, including a variation called the Oaxacan Old Fashioned.

 

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Favorite drink that you make?

Whichever one the customer loves at that moment. The ones that don’t suck. Anything but a Lemon Drop.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

A shot of bourbon at the start of a shift.

 

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

It cycles, but I’m on a mezcal kick now. Mezcal plays beautifully with Chartreuse, and I very much enjoy playing with that and other herbaceous flavors.

 

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What’s your favorite part about working at The War Mouth?

The people, all the way around. Staff and customers. We have an extraordinarily close-knit group of staff that have started to absorb our neighborhood regulars into our little family. Serving them has become more than a way of making money, and is now a way to be involved in people’s lives.

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I’m a big fan of The Whig (our local craft-beer dive bar), Bar None (our late night bar), Art Bar (our indescribable bar), and COA (our mezcal / tequila bar). Columbia has a close-knit service industry culture, so we have friends that work all over town. Anywhere we’ve got buddies working, we’ll hang out.

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What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in Columbia?

I’ve only been behind the bar for six months, so I can’t speak to that directly. I know that I’m interested in continuing to take every opportunity to learn from every corner of the bar scene. I also love the way Columbia is interested in seeing classic cocktails done well, but also so willing to try new things.

 

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

Golden rule for bartenders: service is about more than drinks. Taking care of your customers goes farther than what they have in front of them. Golden rule for customers: I’m more than a piece of meat.

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

A double pour straight to the face. In lieu of that:

 

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The Burning Bush

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Moonshine

  • ½ oz. thyme-infused Aperol

  • ½ oz.  honey-rosemary simple syrup

  • ½ oz.  mezcal

  •  oz. lime

  • egg white

 

Preparation:

Mix all ingredients into a shaker and dry shake to break down the egg white for 10-15 seconds. Add ice and cold shake ingredients until shaker is chilled. Double strain into a coupe glass. Finally, garnish with a torched rosemary sprig laid across the top.

 

Recipe by Spencer Robinson.

All photos by Kate Magee

Behind the Bar: Marvin Allen // Carousel Bar & Lounge

Behind the BarBICS AdminComment
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Though every bar that we feature in our "Behind the Bar" series is amazing and special in its own way, it's rare that we come across an establishment that is truly one of a kind. It's also rare that we get to chat with a bartender who has more than two decades of expertise and has authored his own cocktail book, but we checked both off our list in America's Cocktail Capital -- New Orleans. Nestled in the heart of the beautiful, frenetic French Quarter, the historic Carousel Bar & Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone and its bar manager, Marvin Allen, provide patrons with excellent cocktails, award-winning service, and exceptional ambiance   -- all while slowly spinning. We spoke with Marvin about his time in the industry, his top bartending tips, and his deceptively boozy creation, the Belle Isle Refresher

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Marvin Allen, Head Bartender of Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. I have been bartending for about 25 years, and have been at the Carousel for 16 of those years.

What first got you Behind the Bar?

My original career choice was restaurant management, but after my last management position I was burned out.  I then made the choice to bartend temporarily and return to management after about a year. Once I discovered how much fun I was having bartending, I decided to make it a career. This was also around the time that the modern cocktail revolution was beginning. I developed a passion for bartending and creating cocktails.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

Keep a positive attitude at all times.  Don't let the little things get to you. Keep on educating yourself.  Keep up on new trends and products.

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What's your favorite drink made by someone else?

My favorite cocktail made by someone else is the Sazerac.  Even though I make a great one, it's fun to have one made by someone else.

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Favorite drink that you make?

The Pisco Sour is the national cocktail of Peru, and Pisco itself is a spirit distilled from grapes that almost became extinct due to political unrest in Peru and the lack of knowledge in the United States.  The Pisco Sour was created by Victor Vaughen Morris in the early 1920's in Lima, Peru. It is made with fresh lime juice, egg white, simple syrup, and Pisco. It's a very light and refreshing cocktail.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

A frozen ice cream cocktail.

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

The one cocktail ingredient that is could not live without is good Scotch whisky.

What’s your favorite part about working at Carousel Bar?

My favorite part of working in the Carousel would be the interacting of the different types of people, their cultures, and where they come from.  The Carousel has become a destination bar, and it's great fun to educate our guests on the different cocktails of the city and have them experience a cocktail they may not get in their hometown. They also want the recipes so they can return home and recreate the cocktails.

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

I like to stop for a cocktail anywhere I can sit outside and enjoy the peace and quiet.

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in New Orleans?

It's great, as we have everything from well-made cocktails to Hand Grenades, Hurricanes and Frozen Daiquiris. The return of the classic cocktails has been great, especially since the beginning of Tales of the Cocktail* which brought the classics back to life.

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Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

Always use a jigger when preparing cocktails, because it will make a great cocktail and will always be consistent.  One other thing to remember is the guest that comes in and orders a beer may come back and order one of the classics. Or, if you talk to that guest you may be able to suggest a cocktail, as he may not be educated or have the confidence to order something unknown to him.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

Favorite way to drink Belle Isle is on the rocks.


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BELLE ISLE REFRESHER

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee
  • ¼ oz. Frangelico
  • 3-4 drops   Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • ¼ oz. Simple Syrup
  • 3-4 oz. Half and Half
  • Garnish with coffee beans and chocolate syrup

Preparation:

Drizzle the chocolate syrup in a chilled martini glass. Combine the rest of the ingredients in an ice-filled Boston Shaker and shake until well chilled and frothy.  Strain into the chocolate syrup lined glass and top with three coffee beans and a dash of fresh grated nutmeg. Sit back and enjoy.  Tastes like a piece of the Italian pick me up, Tiramisou Cake!

Recipe by Marvin Allen.

All photos by Joey Wharton

 

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*The Belle Isle Team is so excited to be a part of this year's Tales of the Cocktail!

Join us for Distillé des Bons Temps - a poolside moonshine tasting and cocktail party at the Hotel Monteleone on Tuesday, July 17th! Bring your swimmies!


Cocktails on the brain?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

wanna hear more of our story?

Behind the Bar: Kimber Weissert // Butcher and the Rye

Behind the BarBICS AdminComment
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Smack dab in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh, Butcher and the Rye is serving up some of the best food Steel City has to offer.  Its two-time James Beard Semifinalist bar program (and its mind-boggling wall of nearly 700 whiskeys) is just as outstanding. We chatted with Kimber Weissert, the restaurant's Beverage Director, about her bartending philosophy, her drinking habits, and Pittsburgh's burgeoning cocktail scene. She'll also share her recipe for the dangerously delicious Pomelo en Fuego

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Kimber Weissert, Beverage Director for Butcher and the Rye, täkō, and Pork & Beans in Pittsburgh. 

How long have you been bartending?

I have been at Butcher and the Rye for a bit over a year and a half, and I have been bartending a little over 10 years.

What first got you Behind the Bar?

I was working in Cleveland, Ohio, as a talent buyer for a concert venue called Peabody’s. I’d always been interested in learning to bartend and told them I would love to help out sometime. My first night behind the bar happened quickly. About an hour before a sold out show, they taught me to make a Long Island, a Lake Erie (house shot), and a Washington Apple…and told me good luck. It was an insane night that somehow made me fall in love with the bar business.  I’ve come a long way since then.

Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?

Keep your eyes and ears open.  Learn from your fellow bartenders, and read! If you want to be a career bartender, continued learning is key. I learned so much on the job from other bartenders I worked with over the years, and some of them truly helped make me the bartender I am today.

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What's your favorite drink made by someone else?

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This is such a hard one! I’ll have to say a well-made Manhattan is one of my favorite drinks to get from a fellow bartender. It shows me their chops!

Favorite drink that you make?

I don’t have a favorite drink to make. I like making any drink that is going to make someone smile and enjoy.

 

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

No guilty pleasures…I drink what I drink with no shame. Give me a PBR and a shot of Old Grand-Dad and I am a happy woman.

 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Whiskey – because there are so many options!

 

What’s your favorite part about working at Butcher and the Rye?

My favorite thing about working at Butcher and the Rye is my coworkers – they kick ass, plain and simple. We work hard, we have fun, we get mad at each other, but at the end of the night these are the people I see more than my family…and really are my second family. I love them!

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

One of my favorite places to go to is Hidden Harbor. I am a sucker for an awesome Tiki drink, and they do it so well!

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in Pittsburgh?

I think Pittsburgh has an amazing cocktail culture. There are many great mainstay bars and many more opening. We have great talent and an awesome, supportive community. We have a lot of creative bartenders that are starting to get some recognition in the cocktail world and I think you’re going to hear a lot more about the cocktail scene here in Pittsburgh over the next few years.

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Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

The golden rule for bartenders is to treat every guest like they are a guest in your home.

My philosophy behind the bar is simple. Make it fun! Guests should always feel welcome and never intimidated at the bar. When you work in front of a wall of almost 700 whiskies, which I do, the choices in front of someone new can be overwhelming. My goal is to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable to order what they enjoy, whether it be an awesome whiskey, a cosmo, or maybe even a Pomelo En Fuego. A night out for drinks should be fun!

 

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

A shot of the Cold Brew Coffee moonshine all by itself…it’s so good!


 

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Pomelo En Fuego

Ingredients:

  •  1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit
  •  ½  oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
  •  ½  oz. Agave
  •  ¾ oz. Lime Juice
  •  4 dashes Bittermen’s Hellfire Shrub
  •  1 inch piece of cucumber cut into smaller pieces to muddle

Preparation:

Add agave, lime, and cucumber to shaker.  Muddle Cucumber. Add remaining ingredients and ice. Shake and double strain into prepared rocks glass with a ribbon of cucumber spiraled along inside of glass and ice.  Garnish with pickled habanero.

 

Recipe by Kimber Weissert.

All photos by Joey Wharton


Need more cocktail inspo?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Wanna hear more of our story?

Behind the Bar: Caitlin Patterson // Wahoo! Grill

Behind the BarStephanie StantonComment

Throughout Belle Isle's three years of taking you Behind the Bar, we've showcased some of the best cocktail crafters, shot slingers, and bar personalities Virginia has to offer. Now that we're expanding our reach, we wanted to offer a glimpse into the bar scenes of our new markets. First up - Atlanta!

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Tucked away in Decatur, Georgia, right outside the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, is Wahoo! Grill, a beautiful neighborhood bistro surrounded by its own private garden and outdoor dining space. But beyond the amazing ambience and tasty food, Wahoo! Grill also offers an exquisite cocktail program that has something for every kind of drinker. Last month, we sat down with Caitlin Patterson, a bartender over at Wahoo! to learn more about the magic she mixes up behind the bar and taste her new, extremely refreshing Belle Isle cocktail.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…

I'm Caitlin Patterson, a bartender at Wahoo! Grill.  

How long have you been bartending? What first got you behind the bar?

2 ½ years. I have always glamorized bartenders, so when the bar management team at Wahoo! offered to train me for an open position, I was all for it. I thought even if it didn't work out, I would gain drink and wine knowledge. I had been serving at the restaurant for a year, so I had the basics steps of service and food knowledge down.

I love people, drinks, and doing multiple things at once! After a handful of terrible shifts, it all clicked. I took a mental step back, looked at the entire bar and restaurant, as well as everyone's needs as a whole. Then I wanted to educate myself on cocktail history, winemaking, and how to better my bar service. The two bar managers had totally different styles of bartending, which really made me realize my strengths and weaknesses and how to make the shift my own.

What's one pro-tip for someone starting out behind the bar?

Come in with a good attitude, and be mindful of your guests. Learn to read them. Realize not everyone is at the bar for the same purpose, and you need to provide for those needs. Be one step ahead, and set yourself up to succeed confidently. And bring the hustle!

 

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What's your favorite drink made by someone else?

My bar manager, Reggie, made a drink called "Monkey Bite" after she was literally bitten by a monkey on a vacation. It was muddled sage, blueberries, lime, agave and juniper berry-infused mezcal! So delicious. 

Favorite drink that you make?

Definitely a tie between a few. Most of my drinks are created from one thought - sometimes not even a drink ingredient, but a name or a theme. This past October I came up with a drink based on edible glitter. "Black Magic" became a Halloween cocktail with black vodka, raspberry liquor, sour, edible glitter and apple syrup. After shaking and straining the glitter whirled around in the glass and was so fun.

My second favorite would be "Ray Kinsella," a drink that made our winter drink list, made with gin, lemon, cardamom, rosemary-infused agave, and aquafaba. Aquafaba is the juice and water from a can of chickpeas. It has the same foam effect as egg whites, but is so much easier to work with.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?

I love bringing layered Jell-O shots to parties, holidays, and friends' houses on that random Tuesday. I don't care how old you are - they are fun and festive!

 Caitlin's creation: Tropic Thunder. 

Caitlin's creation: Tropic Thunder. 

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Honey, as is and infused.

Tell us about Wahoo! Grill.

The guests that come to Wahoo! really make the bar. We have so many regulars that the bar team knows on such an elevated level. It's amazing. But Wahoo! is also a wedding venue and large party event space, so we are constantly having people from all over the country gather here for weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, and business meetings. I have gotten to meet so many different people from all walks of life.

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?

Poor Hendrix is a new neighborhood bar that is beautiful inside and out -  and there are so many cute dogs on the patio all the time! My favorite drink they created is called "Cowboy Butts Drive Me Nuts" - it's hazelnut liqueur, Cynar, High West Double Rye, and a few secrets.

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture? What about the Atlanta scene makes it special?

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Some people do not think this is a respected professional occupation, which can be frustrating when you have a passion and drive for it. There are also so many types of bars, bartenders, and visions of the same drink, and none of them are right or wrong.

In 2012, I took a break from college and worked in four different National Parks in four years. I got to experience all corners and crevasses of the United States, as well as the bars. From saloon to tavern, pub or club, a sense of community and history is what ATL brings to the bar scene. 

 

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.

Please, please, please have a good attitude! I know we have a hard job, but you are the one setting the mood for yourself, the shift, and the experience your guests have.

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?

Honey Habanero Mule with lime! Any day, any season.

 


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Tropic Thunder

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Combine and shake all ingredients over shaved ice in stemless goblet.

 

All Photos by Kate Magee.

 

Want to go behind more bars?


Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.

We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.

Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.

From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.

Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.

Wanna learn more about us?

Behind the Bar: Chad Painter // Wonderland

Behind the BarBrandon Day3 Comments
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In our line of work, we cross paths with a wide range of bartenders and walk into an equally diverse range of bars. While no two bars are truly the same, there are some that tend to stand out. Maybe it's because Halloween is right around the corner, but one spot tucked away in the historic Shockoe Bottom neighborhood in Richmond, VA comes to mind. We stopped by and visited our good friend Chad Painter at Wonderland for a peek into the rabbit hole and to hear how this iconic spot came into existence.

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First thing’s first, who are you?
Chad Painter, and I am Overlord here at Wonderland.

How long have you been bartending?
Probably close to 15 years now. I’ve been in the industry for about 20 years though.

What first got you behind the bar?
I’m a Richmond native and I’ve pretty much always been in Shockoe Bottom - I started out at a place that was across the street from where we are now. It started with me working the door at a bar, then became the back bar guy, then front bar guy, booked the bands that came through, and after I figured all of that out, I decided to just do it on my own.

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Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
People tell me they want to learn to be a bartender so they’re going to go to bartending school or whatever. Here’s my thing: you can send a monkey into space if you teach it to push the same buttons over and over again. Same thing with bartending - you can go to bartending school and learn to make whatever stupid drinks people are freaking out over today. Doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good bartender or, at the end of the day, even enjoy doing it.

Realistically it comes down to maybe 10-20% drink knowledge and the rest is just personality. It’s about knowing how to talk to people and interact. Now I’m not saying you should stand there and bullshit people, but you’re never going to know everything there is to know about making drinks. So why worry about it? Spend more time getting good at bringing people together and showing folks a good time, and the rest will come naturally.

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Favorite drink made by someone else?
It’s hard getting out to go places but when I get the chance, it’s more about getting to see specific people than to drink a specific cocktail. I’ll stop by to see everyone at Banditos or head over and see Beau when he’s bartending. A lot of these are folks that I’ve watched over the years and who have taught my how to “hone my craft” in one way or another.

Favorite drink that you make?
We don’t do the standard thing here at our bar. I don’t make up names for drinks, I don’t do a set cocktail menu, and so on. It’s different here. We ask what people like, what they don’t like, and from there we work something out. It’s more interactive and forces you to keep flexing that creative muscle. The staff will test out drink ideas on each other beforehand. Our “Bar Experiment” nights have taken a weird turn a few times...

What is the weirdest concoction that you guys have whipped up during your “experiments”?
We’ve made some wicked drinks before, so it’s hard to choose. Sometimes we’ll just push each other to come up with the nastiest drink we can think of, but most of the time it’s all on accident. One experiment that we thought might end up tasting decent but ended up being vile was, and I’m sorry to say, a combo of Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit and Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee. Separately, they are amazing. Together, not so great… It’s my new favorite thing to offer people when they ask for a free shot because it’s their birthday.

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What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
It’s meeting new people, which is both the best and worst part of the job. You get to know people from all over the world and from different walks of life. We’ve had people walk in here that have heard from friends of friends or just searched for bars on the internet. It’s a lot of word of mouth and that brings in everybody from homeless people to CEOs and directors of whatever boards. I don’t care who you are or where you’re from or what you do, it’s all about just being here and having a good time. That motto works for me and has worked for the past 13 years now here at Wonderland.

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What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?
I like when people give me the freedom and trust me enough to make something up for them. I’d say 95% of the time, it works out. And the other 5% is just a learning opportunity. The whole “craft cocktail” movement is cool, but it’s a pain in the ass to me. As a casual drinker, I don’t need every drink to be a spectacle. Some of the extracurriculars that go into some of the drinks I see are hysterical. Lots of respect to those that do it and keep the craft movement going. We’re a “beer and a shot” bar though, so it’s just a different mentality.

With the rise in craft cocktail spots, are “beer and a shot” places like Wonderland harder to come by?
We’ve always stuck with our original idea for Wonderland, so that’s why we remain who we are. Back in the day, especially in Shockoe Bottom, places had their shtick and stuck to it. You could walk down the strip and go into the jazz club, then pop next door into the disco club, stop by the Irish pub, go to the punk bar, and so on. These places weren’t labeled that way, but over time built up a reputation and as a result, there was a greater diversity of the types of bars you could walk into on any given night. With the craft cocktail movement coming back, a lot of places think that they should hop on the trend and do that too. So you see places conforming to that style and they all start to look the same, so now places like Wonderland seem special.

Wonderland has a very specific atmosphere to it. How did all of this come together?
I had a very clear vision for the place from the start, but it was definitely a snowball effect. The horror vibe is great because it’s all stuff I love and it helps keep out the riff raff of people who would be tempted to come in here and act like an idiot. Less and less places are confident enough to stick to what they know, and I don’t blame them. But sticking to my guns has made Wonderland what it is. We still have changed over the years, even if it’s all still within the same vibe that we started with. Like recently I’ve put up a lot more clown stuff since that seems to be freaking people out more. Clowns are fun and creepy - what’s not to love?

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
Have respect for yourself and the people you are interacting with. You don’t have to show them love and whatever else, but respect them. You never know what kind of day someone has had and chances are that if they are sitting at the bar, it was probably a shitty one. I just follow the age-old saying: Treat people the way you want to be treated.

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Some lucky patrons of Wonderland get the pleasure of snapping a "bathroom selfie" with you every now and then. How did that start?
I don’t even remember how it started. It’s just a thing you do now. When bands come through or random people visiting come by, we make them do it. It’s pointless and stupid to crowd a bunch of people into a tiny bathroom just for a picture, but it’s funny and people love it. I think there’s like 300-400 up on the Instagram hashtag now.

Halloween isn't the only holiday around the corner. I know you're a part of a cool program in town called Punks for Presents. Tell us a little bit about that!
Punks for Presents started 13 years ago during the holiday season. A bunch of people get together and we make cover bands, write covers of songs and add holiday stuff to it, then put on a series of shows all around town. It’s all volunteer work and all of the money we get goes straight to buying presents for kids. Each year we work with a different charity, so this year all of the proceeds are going to buying presents for kids at the Children’s Hospital at MCV. We run the shows, get together at the end, and go shopping for the toys, then take the presents over to the kids. It’s a great cause and one of those things where you know for sure that all of the money or support you are putting into it will directly benefit the kids. None of us are walking out with a check or getting anything out of it.

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What's your favorite way to sip Belle Isle?
I'm a big fan of Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit - it’s the shit. It’s perfect any time of the year, it’s light and crisp and fresh. And I’m not just saying that because you’re sitting here interviewing me. We make a tasty citrus drink with Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit and Belle Isle Honey Habanero.

Preparation:

Combine ingredients with ice, shake, and pour into a pint glass. Garnish with a lime wedge or a mint sprig.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
  • 1 oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit
  • 3/4 oz. sour mix
  • ¼ oz. orange juice
  • Splash of lime juice
  • Dehydrated mint

Photos by Joey Wharton

Behind the Bar: Josh Seaburg // The Main

Behind the BarBrandon DayComment
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Hotel bars have always been a staple when it comes to American drinking culture. As a meeting point for area locals and visitors to the community, they have served as a hub for a wide array of social interactions. And what better place to perfect the art of social lubrication à la craft cocktail creations than there? While there might be a large variation in the kind and quality of hotel bar programs, one spot in particular has risen to the top.

This is what leads us to the doorway of Hilton Norfolk - The Main, where we met up with Chief Mixologist Josh Seaburg to learn a little bit about how his work and experience has managed to reshape the Tidewater region's notions of hotel bars and elevate Virginia-made spirits like Belle Isle Moonshine within his cocktail program. 

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First thing’s first, who are you?
Josh Seaburg, Chief Mixologist for Hilton Norfolk - The Main.

How long have you been bartending?
I’ve been involved with the program here since day 0, I’ve been bartending for 6 years, in the industry for 11.

What first got you behind the bar?
I was a server from the ages of 16 to 21, so as soon as I had an opportunity to do something different, I took it. I started out working at a tequila bar at the oceanfront, and falling in love with Agave spirits kept me behind the bar long term.

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Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
Learn and master guest service and basic cocktails before you start worrying about making your own bitters, or foraging for wild mushrooms for your dope infusion.

Favorite drink made by someone else?
Maggie Tsouris at Voila here in Norfolk makes the best Aviation I’ve ever had. They’ve been my downfall more than a couple of times.

Favorite drink that you make?
An awesome Pina Colada. It’s to the point now where I’ll occasionally get asked to bring my blender to parties to make them, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
Once in a great while, I’ll make a very time-consuming, ceremonial martini at home, in a wacky ratio of 3.7 to 1. I wind up measuring it with a scale. It’s just so over-the-top and I’m so picky about it that I would only ever do something like that in the privacy of my own home.

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose
Agave spirits. Tequila and Mezcal are two things I couldn’t live without.

What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
I like the transient nature of working in a hotel bar. We have our beloved regulars, but the majority of our guest base is only in town for a little while. It’s exciting to turn them on to the fact that there’s a growing cocktail scene in the area, and provide a memorable experience.

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?
I love the atmosphere at Shiptown, a clean-cooking seafood restaurant. It’s super close to my house, the food is amazing, they’re oysters are top notch, and they make a mean martini.

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What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?
On the whole, I’m just really excited that more and more bartenders are understanding that making good drinks is just one part to the equation. Locally, I’m seeing more and more bartenders develop interest in maintaining cost percentages, and taking note of the business side of things, and that’s a must for anyone who wants to advance into management or ownership.

Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
For bartenders, don’t get hung up on what your guest is drinking; it’s such a small part of the equation. Good regulars don’t just walk in and start ordering cool cocktails without developing a relationship, and that’s based much more on service and personality than it is on selling them a craft cocktail when they ordered a vodka cranberry.  

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What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
Cold Brew Shots! That, and I really enjoy using the Honey Habanero in a Penicillin variation. The spicy and sweetness play with ginger really nicely.

Why did you want to highlight this cocktail for Virginia Spirits Month?
I like to share cocktails that are quick and easy to do at home. Getting guests excited to go home and recreate something they had at my bar is one of the more rewarding aspects of the job for me.

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a tin; add ice, and shake. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass, garnish with candied ginger.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. ginger syrup*
  • 6 drops Bittermen’s Buckspice Bitters

*Ginger syrup recipe: equal parts sugar, ginger, and hot water by weight, blended and strained

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Behind the Bar: Brandice Courtney // Supper Southern Morsels

Behind the BarBrandon DayComment
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Contrary to popular opinion, we believe that one of the best times to party on a rooftop is at the end of summer, just as the weather starts to cool down. It looks like that season has finally arrived, and just in time to celebrate Virginia Spirits Month too!

That's why we decided to stop by one of our favorite rooftop bars, Supper Southern Morsels in Norfolk, VA to visit our friend and Bar Manager Brandice Courtney. Not only did she give us some great insight to her bar beliefs and background, she also hooked us up with their new Belle Isle cocktail on tap. And in case you were wondering, yes - it was perfect!

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First thing’s first, who are you?
I'm Brandice Courtney and I'm the Bar Manager, Wine Coordinator, and FOH Manager at Supper Southern Morsels.

That's quite the lineup! How long have you been bartending?
Just over a year now here at Supper. I have been bartending for 3 years total, but this is definitely the first "craft" - and non-speed-bar - restaurant I've ever been a part of.  The first few months were overwhelming, as my bar trainers pushed me hard and we are slammed in the summertime, especially with our rooftop bar.

So what first got you behind the bar?
Sometimes my ability to catch on quickly and perseverance for taking on any challenge in my sight takes me unexpected places, and that's basically how I ended up behind the bar. And that same trait is what took me from bartending to managing. I'm proud of the skillset that has gotten me this far. As a lot of people can attest, the flow of a restaurant is not exactly for everyone.

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Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
Don't be afraid to get rough with the utensils. In training new bartenders, I just want them to get down and dirty with slinging bottles and not be afraid to bruise mint with a hard hand-clap and vigorously dash some bitters. Also, I'm always telling bartenders: TASTE EVERYTHING. You should always know what you're handing someone.

Beyond that, it's all about your mentality. I try to instill in my peers the general rule that the guest is your number one priority. In this business, I think it's easy to get caught up in making sure you are fast and forget the body in the bar stool is a person and not just a tip. You can go a whole shift just getting by, or you can walk away knowing you made someone smile, you gave someone the most unique Manhattan they've ever had, etc. Just be a good person. 

Favorite drink made by someone else?
My old colleague Patrick introduced me to a Manhattan with Carpano Antica and black walnut bitters. It's my go-to in the chilly months.

Favorite drink that you make?
Honestly, tequila needs more love and attention y"all! Here's my go-to: 2 oz. blanco tequila, 1.5 oz. lime juice, 0.5 oz. agave, and a muddled fresno pepper slice, shaken hard and strained. So refreshing.

Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
A nice Grenache-based rosé.

If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Bulleit Bourbon 10-year.

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What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
The immense freedom in what we can bring into our bar - fruit, bitters, spirits, herbs (we grow our own mint, rosemary, basil, dill) and the tools we have - CO2 infusing siphons, immersion blenders, cocktail smoker, etc. As if a bartender and a scientist collaborated, we have our own laboratory. 

Where do you like to stop in for a drink?
My couch? Just kidding... I really love our sister restaurant, Public House!  Dark-lit, smoking and pool room, arcade machines (GALAGA!) and a couple of the most impressively knowledgeable bartenders I have the privilege to be acquainted with. 

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?
I'm happy to see food culture's farm-to-table prevalence seeping into cocktail culture. The more ingredients at hand, the better. Again, tequila! It's making a comeback in the craft cocktail scene, as it is more versatile than most perceive it to be. I will say, canned and bottled cocktails always have and always will irk me. I'm old-school and love the building of a cocktail upon request. 

What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture?

I'm happy to see food culture's farm-to-table prevalence seeping into cocktail culture. The more ingredients at hand, the better.
I will say, canned and bottled cocktails always have and always will irk me. I'm old-school and love the building of a cocktail upon request. 
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Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
For bartenders: Practice, taste, practice, taste, SLEEP!
For guests: "I want something fun," is not a cocktail.  I'm just sayin'...

What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
My forte is floral and herbal. The Belle Isle Black Label seems to especially open up floral flavors and balances well with the spice of Fentiman's ginger beer. I also really love the combination or rosemary and citrus in our Belle Isle cocktail on tap.

Preparation:

Combine ingredients in a tin with ice, shake, then strain into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit
  • ¾ oz. spiced orange syrup
  • splash of pomegranate juice
  • sprig of rosemary
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